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Written by:
Martin Barrett
Last Updated:
Course Performance Metrics

13 Ways to Track Course Performance Metrics

Education and training are important to so many of us, whether we’re studying for personal improvement, to increase our career opportunities, or because it is employer-mandated training.

Completing courses takes both time and money so regardless of whether it is an individual or a company that is footing the bill, it is important that the course is valuable and worth taking.

Ineffective courses are a waste of time and money and in the worst cases, can even have a negative impact on learning and performance.

If you’re creating courses and are trying to sell them to students or businesses, then it’s important that you are delivering effective courses that give value for money.

This is where course performance metrics can help. They will aid you in discovering problems with the performance of your course so that you can make improvements and deliver the best training possible.

In this article, we take a closer look at course performance metrics.

What Are Metrics?

Metrics are a common term used in several different industries but they’re often not well-defined. So what exactly are metrics?

In general terms, metrics are a measurement of something. The metric should be an easily quantifiable value and you should be able to compare one value with another when the circumstances are similar. 

For example, when it comes to course performance metrics, you may decide to measure student retention rates after three months. You will be able to get a true and valid number for this based on how many students cancel or abandon their courses.

You can express the value as a percentage and then compare it against the retention rate of other courses to see how successful your course is.

When you decide on your metrics, you need to choose something that is definable and measurable. If we take our retention rate example one more time, you can see that we defined the retention rate as happening over three months.

Including a time limit was important as without it, the metric would be impossible to measure and compare against other results.

Why Course Performance Metrics Are Important

Metrics serve a few different purposes. You can use them to see where your courses are performing well and where they are failing.

By measuring your student retention rates, you can see how many students are sticking with your course and if the rates are lower than you wanted, metrics will identify this and lead you to taking actions to make your students stay.

Pitching the difficulty of your course at the right level so that it is challenging without being too difficult can be a tricky balance, but metrics will help you achieve this. If students fail one particular test at a higher rate than others, then you can identify this as being too difficult and either change the test or overhaul the material. This will help you deliver the best course materials to your students.

Course performance metrics can also be a great sales tool. If you’re looking to sell your courses or platform to companies, you can use your metrics to easily display how your courses are performing.

Once the company has signed on and is using your services, metrics can be evidence that they are getting their money’s worth and that the course is working the way they want it to.  

Measuring course performance metrics will not only benefit your students but also any business to business clients you have as well.

Types of Course Performance Metrics

There are many different ways that you can measure the performance of your course. Depending on who your course is marketed for some of these metrics may be more important than others so you will need to decide which ones you want to use.

In broad terms, course performance metrics can be divided into a series of umbrella groups that cover different aspects of learning. We’ll look at these groups in turn and give you some examples of how you can measure them.

Metrics For Activity and Engagement

When you design your course, you will spend hours on making sure that it covers all of the material required and flows in a way that builds upon previous lessons.

Every lesson, from the first to the last, needs to be as perfect as possible and this can take a lot of time and revisions to get right.

All of this effort will have been for naught, however, if your students are not engaging with the course material.

Engaging with the material instead of either passively working through it or not looking at it at all, is the key to students learning and completing the course. You need students to complete the course in order to hit those objectives and goals you’re aiming for.

There are several areas you can track and produce metrics for that let you know if your students are engaging with the material. If they aren’t, you can identify any problem areas and then work on improving them.

Here are our recommendations for areas to track.

Time Spent on Activities

When you plan an activity, you should have a rough idea of how long you expect it to take for a student to complete it. If your course has several activities, they should all be around the same length.

By tracking the time spent on each activity, you can identify if there are particular activities that students are struggling with.

Time Spent to Complete the Course

You should have a rough idea of how long each course will take to complete from start to finish. These durations, whether they’re measured in hours or months, can help students decide whether to take the course.

If students are taking too long to complete the course or are flying through it too quickly, this is a sign that your course isn’t working the way it should.

Activity Completion Rates

If you offer several different types of activities, you can identify which ones are working and which ones aren’t by seeing which activities are being completed.

If, for example, your multiple choice quizzes have a 100 percent completion rate but your freeform quizzes have a rate of only 50 percent, then you need to consider whether your freeform quizzes are fit for purpose.

Course Completion Rates

When you create a course, you should expect that some students will not finish it, regardless of how good it is. However, if your course completion rate is too low you should consider what factors are behind this.

Student Drop Out Points

As we just stated, you can’t expect every student to complete the course. If there are specific points where students are dropping out, however, these may be problem areas that you need to address.

Metrics For Learning Experience

Metrics For Learning Experience

One of the easiest ways to get feedback and information about the performance of your course is to ask your students.

Although you can use automated tools to try and identify difficult areas of your course or activities that students didn’t like, these tools can’t tell you why students dropped out or didn’t engage with the course material.

This is why you need to introduce a variety of feedback tools and surveys so that you can hear directly from your students. There are many tools available that will put surveys into your course and they’re usually placed at the end of a course or if a student opts to leave.

To get the best and most quantifiable results from the surveys, it’s best to make them as structured as you can. Although freeform text boxes can be useful for more detailed feedback, you should also include several questions that ask students to rate the course on a scale.

Consider implementing a simple five point scale where 1 = strongly disagree, 3 = neutral, and 5 = strongly agree. Try to keep the questions to less than 20 as too many questions can cause students to give incorrect feedback or none at all.

You can ask students about factors such as:

  • Ease of use
  • Quality of course content
  • Relevance of course content
  • Enjoyment of activities
  • Difficulty level
  • Appropriateness of the assessments
  • Overall course feedback

When coupled with the engagement feedback, this can be very useful for highlighting where you can improve.

Metrics For Instructor Effectiveness

If you’ve created the kind of course that has an instructor directing it and hosting lectures, then you should also track their performance as well.

As video conferencing software has become more standard across the board, video lessons and one-to-one meetings between students and educators have also increased.

They can be a great way to keep students engaged and on track, but they still need to be measured for their effectiveness. 

Even in an e-learning environment, many students appreciate having a dedicated instructor that they can contact for help and feedback. Thankfully, measuring metrics for instructor effectiveness is pretty easy and you can spot problems quite quickly.

Learner competency – If students are still struggling with the material despite having access to an instructor, then you know that the instructor isn’t being effective and the course materials need some work. You’ll see the signs of this in lower quiz scores, more infrequent engagement, and dropping out.

Instructor’s reponses – Many learning platforms have an internal messaging system so that students can directly contact their instructors. The frequency of this contact and time between replies should be monitored. If students are contacting their instructor’s too frequently, this might be a sign that they’re struggling with the material. If instructors are taking too long to respond, this can be indicative of problems with the instructor.

Metrics For Customer Satisfaction

Whether your customers are individual learners or companies that have purchased your service for the employees to use, you want to ensure that your customers are satisfied with your product.

Satisfied customers lead to good reviews, word of mouth advertising, and repeat customers. If your customers aren’t satisfied with your service and your courses, it’s less likely that they will use your services again and they’re unlikely to recommend you to others.

This can greatly affect your service’s future growth.

Here are some of the ways you can measure customer satisfaction.


We addressed surveys in our section about learner experience so we won’t talk about them in too much depth here.

However, one question you might want to ask when customers finish their course is whether they will recommend your service to others or study again themselves.

Track Repeat Customers

By tracking the number of customers that do complete more than one course or continue their subscription, you can assess how satisfied they are.

No matter how good your service is there will always be customers who only want to complete a single specific course, but if there are no repeat customers, you know that you have a problem.

Referral System

You can include a referral system alongside your course so that you can track when new customers sign up for your service thanks to being referred by existing customers. This can be a useful metric of how many people are recommending you to others.

Track External Ratings

There are many third party websites that allow students to give ratings. These are often good sources of information about your service and course material so make use of them! Keep track of what your students are saying and how they are rating their experience.

Many prospective students will search out these ratings before committing to your service so take any negative feedback you find and use it to improve. Students will leave comments about all aspects of your service, from the material to interface.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we took an in-depth look at course performance metrics. We explained what they are and why they are important to course creators. We also looked at the different types of course performance metrics and how they can be measured in practical terms.

We hope that the information and hints in this article will help you create your own course performance metrics.